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Gambling Today: Vegas Bettors Potentially Facing No Pari-Mutuel Kentucky Derby Wagering

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo discusses the impact of Thursday’s Nevada Gaming Commission’s ruling & its subsequent impact on Las Vegas horse bettors.

There is a “quiet” contract dispute between the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association and Churchill Downs that has not garnered much national attention. The dispute between the two sides, which began back in October, has prevented horse racing bettors in the state of Nevada from wagering on races at the popular racetrack for the past 10 months.

The dispute has now extended to the final days ahead of the Kentucky Derby and is adversely affecting anyone looking to wager on perhaps the biggest sporting event outside of the Super Bowl or March Madness. I am shocked that during these pandemic times, we are facing an issue of this magnitude to a gambling industry teetering on the brink of financial despair. However, here we are today.

As an alternative to the disagreement, Las Vegas bookmakers were given the go-ahead to begin making preparations to book the Kentucky Derby at each individual sportsbook property. Late Thursday, Gaming Today reported that the Nevada Gaming Commission ruled that sportsbooks can book their own bets on the race as oddsmakers did before the implementation of pari-mutuel wagering in Nevada.

This is absolutely terrible news for horse racing bettors in the state of Nevada looking forward to being in Las Vegas on September 5. The rumors are there will be “hard limits” or “capped amounts” on all payouts at any sportsbook that will try to book the Derby.

Gaming Today went on to state: 

Books would pay out according to track odds (for Win/Place/Show wagers), which was the old-school practice before Nevada race books pooled with tracks, according to Marc Rubinstein, the association’s lawyer. Nevada books would have the ability to cap exotic bet payouts based on house rules.”

“Capping” potential payouts is terrible and will lead to bettors looking for outlets that would return expected “full” payout amounts. 

For instance, if the exacta on the race pays $377 for every $2 wagered, the hard limits being discussed would only allow for a possible max payout return of $100. In addition, if the trifecta pays $684 for every $2 at Churchill Downs, the sportsbooks would legally be allowed to possibly only pay out $200. (As of this writing, no actual hard limits or capped payout amounts were being shared despite requests made by SI Gambling.)

If sports bettors balk at payout limits, which they rightfully should, many will look to utilize outlets specializing in horse racing betting outside the state.

We always advise here at SI Gambling to shop around for the best numbers on games. In this instance, it involves shopping around for the best outlet that will pay out the monetary returns bettors rightfully deserve! Many, if not all are offering attractive sign-up promotions ahead of the Derby! Let’s take a look.

Leading online horse racing betting shops like TVG, XpressBet, NYRABets, TwinSpires and BUSR could become some of the best viable options if no agreement is reached by September 5.

TVG has teamed up with FanDuel to offer a great promotion that includes free entry fantasy sports tournaments and $200 Risk Free money to be bet on any horse in the Derby.

Similarly, XpressBet is offering a solid promotion of “Boost your Kentucky Derby Bankroll”. If you can get 10 family or friends to sign up and wager at least $100 by August 30 and you'll receive a $1,000 Bonus on Thursday, September 3 - just in time for the Run for the Roses. You’ll need to hurry on this one as the promotion expires this Sunday.

At BUSR they are offering some very attractive promotions, highlighted by a 20% signup bonus after your first deposit. For example, if a horse bettor deposits $2,500 in his/her account ahead of the Derby they would be eligible for a $500 bonus.

Over at TwinSpires they are offering a sign-up promotion where bettors can bet their way to an eventual $200 bonus.

At NYRABets, they are offering a sign-up promotion that includes a $25 Free Bet plus up to $200 in a deposit match.

It is mind-boggling to think at a time when Las Vegas sportsbooks are reporting decreased handles and profits due to the pandemic, they would not find a way to come to an agreement ahead of the racing industry’s biggest day of the calendar year. There is no way, any horse racing bettor should even come close to accepting “capped” exotic payout amounts. As an avid horse handicapper, I can not advocate strongly enough the value associated with pari-mutuel payouts on exotic wagers. If an agreement does not come to fruition, all bettors in the state of Nevada should be seeking out other outlets.